Ron Silliman: Two Recent Segue Readings Segmented

Posted 4/1/2008 (link)

In the past few weeks, we've added two newly-segmented Segue Series readings by Ron Silliman, recorded at Double Happiness and the Bowery Poetry Club in 2000 and 2005, respectively.

"Ah, this is going to be fun," Silliman announces at the start of the first reading, recorded May 13, 2000. He then tells us, "I'm going to do something completely different," and launches into a series of five excerpts from the "You" section of The Alphabet (which will be published later this year) — pieces which bookend his move from Berkeley back east, and pay tribute to friends and colleagues, including Linh Dinh, Bob Perelman and Francie Shaw. These are followed by three excerpts from The Alphabet's "VOG" section: "Silence of the Looms," "Elegy for Larry Eigner" and "Spiderduck."

Recorded on November 15, 2005, the second recording begins with Silliman reading "Quindecagon" ("the one section in The Alphabet which uses rhyme," he notes), which is followed by 1981's "Albany," a one-hundred-sentence poem in which "every sentence is simultaneously personal and political." This serves as a segue to a number of selections from his 2004 memoir, Under Albany — "If a function of writing is to express the world," "A benefit reading" and "Co-payment" — which expand upon the content of that early poem.

These readings are but two of many which you'll find on Silliman's PennSound author page, including appearances on LINEbreak, miPOradio and PhillyTalks, along with readings from SUNY Buffalo; Chapel Hill, NC; Kutztown University; and several events recorded at the Kelly Writers House. Click on the title above to listen.

John Ashbery Reading At Haverford College

Posted 4/2/2008 (link)

Today, we're highlighting a wonderful recent reading by John Ashbery, recorded February 19, 2008 at Haverford College.

Ashbery shares a selection of poems from Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007), including favorites such as "Redeemed Area," "A Linnet," "If You Said You Would Come With Me," "Disagreeable Glimpses" and "Hotel Lautréamont," along with the title poem from his latest volume, A Worldly Country. Those of us who were present recall a strong and charming performance, and we're glad to be able to share this recording with a wider audience. Click on the title above to start listening.

This latest addition is the one of sixteen full recordings now available on PennSound's John Ashbery author page, which we launched last October. Keep your eyes on PennSound Daily for news on a number of forthcoming readings — including our earliest recording to date, a 1963 appearance at The Living Theatre — as well as radio programs in which Ashbery is paired with Barbara Guest and John Hollander.

PoemTalk #5: Ted Berrigan's "3 Pages"

Posted 4/3/2008 (link)

The fifth installment of the PoemTalk podcast series (co-sponsored by PennSound, the Kelly Writers House and the Poetry Foundation) has just been released — a discussion of Ted Berrigan's "3 Pages," recorded as part of his 1978 appearance on KPFA's "In the American Tree" (hosted by Lyn Hejinian and Kit Robinson). Host Al Filreis is joined by poets Linh Dinh, Randall Couch and erica kaufman for this episode.

"3 Pages" is a particularly useful poem, in that it serves as a microcosm for so many of the characteristics we think of as Berrigan-esque: it's a list poem, a collage, a fine example of Berrigan's mid-career open-field form, a collaboration (his text originally accompanied a series of George Schneeman silkscreens), and, being addressed to another poet (Jack Collom), speaks to the sociable aspects of the New York School in all its permutations. Moreover, with lines which reappear in "10 Things I Do Every Day," "Things to Do in New York City" and "from 'Anti-Memoirs,'" "3 Pages" challenges us to read Berrigan's collected poetry as one cohesive, recursive body of work, or, as Charles Bernstein asserts, "not as a document of a life in writing but, inversely, as an appropriation of a life by writing."

The PoemTalk panelists struggle to find the ten things Berrigan does every day — finding nine, then twelve items, along with references to Charles Reznikoff and Frank O'Hara — and parse through his ironies and semantics. "There's something tremendously American about Ted Berrigan here," Filreis observes, framing the poem as an expression of the poet's "great, symbolic American selfhood," and yet, Couch counters, in its rejection of "the U.S. desiderata" (he interprets the final stanza as representing "technological achievement," "the work ethic," "patriotism and bravery" and "material success") "3 Pages" has a complex and conflicted relationship to mid-century American life. To hear more, along with past PoemTalk programs on Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, George Oppen and William Carlos Williams, click on the title above.

George Oppen Centennial Celebration, Monday 4/7

Posted 4/4/2008 (link)

Please join us at 6:00 PM on Monday, April 7th at the Kelly Writers House for A Celebration of George Oppen's 100 Birthday, which promises to be one of the most exciting events of the spring season at UPenn. Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Thomas Devaney will host the 100-minute reading, which will also feature performances and discussions of Oppen's work by Stephen Cope, George Economou, Al Filreis, Michael Heller, Ann Lauterbach, Tom Mandel, Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman. Of course, a recording of the event will be made available on PennSound, but if you're in the Philadelphia area, you owe it to yourself to come out for a marvelous evening with Penn's writing community. For more information, click on the title above.

To get yourself in the spirit for the evening, why not check out PennSound's George Oppen author page, where you can listen to a total of six different readings, starting with a 1963 reading at the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, and ending with a 1979 session of Oppen's personal selections from his Collected Poems. There are also readings from SUNY Buffalo, the 92nd Street Y and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and Oppen's masterpiece, "Of Being Numerous," is represented by five different recordings. You'll also find links to Oppen's page at the Electronic Poetry Center, which features a biography, bibliography, links and a number of scholarly articles and testimonials.

We'll look forward to seeing you Monday night at 6:00.

New Close Listening Reading and Conversation with John Tranter

Posted 4/9/2008 (link)

The latest installment of the Close Listening series — a collaboration between PennSound and ArtRadio — has just been posted: a two-part reading and conversation with Australian poet and critic John Tranter.

The reading segment features poems from Tranter's latest collection, 2006's Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected, beginning with a number of pieces which engage with, often via the process of (mis)translation, the works of other poets, such as "After Hölderlin;" "Festival," a deliberate mistranslation of Max Jacob's poem of the same name; and a transliterated version of Arthur Rimbaud's "Brussles." From there, the session continues with a selection of recent poems, including, "Snap," "Five Modern Myths," "Black Leather" and "Radium," which addresses James Schuyler's tribute to his departed friend, Frank O'Hara, "Buried at Springs."

Host Charles Bernstein begins his interview by asking Tranter about the context for his poetry: whether it's global, or more local, and this leads to a discussion of the tensions between Australian nationalism and an international focus in Tranter's own work, as well as the tremendous literary and cultural potential of the internet — as best embodied by Tranter's journal, Jacket — which elides and erases the differences imposed by national boundaries. Tranter then discusses his earliest influences (Chinese poetry, D.H. Lawrence, Gerard Manley Hopkins) and how they shaped his poetic development, as well as the tremendous import the work of Rimbaud, Ashbery, Schuyler and O'Hara, alongside more proximal inspirations, such as the great Australian hoax-poet, Ern Malley (whose collected works Tranter published in Jacket #17). "You can't really put Wordsworth in Australia — the environment's all wrong," he observes, underscoring the overwhelming, yet foreign dominion of English verse during his formative years, compelling him to break with traditions and invent new forms.

You can hear both installments by visiting PennSound's brand-new John Tranter author page — which also features a 2005 reading at the Kelly Writers House — and stay tuned to PennSound for several new and exciting Close Listening programs, forthcoming shortly.

Patrick F. Durgin: New Author Page

Posted 4/10/2008 (link)

We've added a new PennSound author page for poet and critic Patrick F. Durgin, author of several collections of poetry, as well as the editor of Hannah Weiner's Open House, one of the most celebrated releases of 2007.

Our collection starts with a brief reading at Chicago's Myopic Books on March 30, 2008: "Craft Ballads" One, Two Three and Four. A quick set from earlier in the month — recorded March 6th at Milwaukee's Woodland Pattern — features three poems, "My Human," Facial Expression" and "To My Imitators." Finally, we have a pair of poems from the MLA Offsite Readings, an excerpt from "The Route" recorded in 2006 and "Song Ink for Jackson Mac Low," from the 2004 marathon reading. Durgin was also one of the organizers for the MLA Offsite Reading at the 2007 Convention in Chicago, and you can hear him read alongside dozens of readers. To start listening, click the title above.

UPenn's George Oppen Centennial Celebration Now Online

Posted 4/10/2008 (link)

A recording of A Celebration of George Oppen's 100 Birthday — a fantastic tribute to one of the 20th Century's most influential poets — is now available on PennSound. The audience at a packed Kelly Writers House was treated to ten different perspectives on Oppen's life and work at Monday night's event, ranging from appreciations and analyses of his work, such as Rachel Blau DuPlessis' "Section 9: Of Being Numerous" and Al Filreis' "Oppen's Antifascism: Guilt in 'Myth of the Blaze,'" to personal recollections, including Ron Silliman's "Three Regrets for George Oppen," George Economou's "Inside a Tale that is Full of Eyes" (which nearly brought those assembled to tears with a tale of being moved to tears by Oppen's "Psalm"), and Tom Mandel's story of a mislaid envelope of Oppen poem postcards, which he distributed amongst the audience (nearly three decades after he promised to do so — you can see the postcard on our Oppen Centennial page).

You can also hear wonderful presentations by Ann Lauterbach (who discusses Oppen's influence on her work and shares her poem "Oppen's Way"), Bob Perelman ("Oppen's Knowledge"), Michael Heller ("Oppen's Thematics: What Are Poets For?"), Stephen Cope (who shares selections from Oppen's daybooks and discusses his process of editing Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers) and co-host Thomas Devaney, who wrapped up the evening with a discussion of the sustaining strengths of the marriage of George and Mary Oppen, sharing selections from the latter's Meaning A Life. You'll also find additional resources, including the evening's program in PDF format, links to PennSound's George Oppen author page and DuPlessis' reading of Oppen's "Myth of the Blaze" discussed during Filreis' presentation. We hope to add more materials as they become available, including photos and documents, so check back often.

Writers Without Borders: Cecilia Vicuna at UPenn, 4/15

Posted 4/15/2008 (link)

Please join us Tuesday, April 15th, at 6:00 PM at the Kelly Writers House, for the inaugural event of Penn's Writers Without Borders series, featuring acclaimed Chilean poet, filmmaker and performance artist, Cecilia Vicuña, whose improvisational, multidisciplinary and multilingual pieces dwell, in her words "in the in-betweenness" of language, form and song, drawing audiences into a shared poetic space. In preparation for the event, you can listen to a September, 1995 LINEbreak program, hosted by Charles Bernstein (also the host for Tuesday's event), in which Vicuña performs selections from Unraveling Words, The Weaving of Water and discusses her ethnic and aesthetic origins, as well as her expressive methodologies.

Writers Without Borders, the Provost's International Writing Series at the Kelly Writers House (supported by a grant by Seth Gins), seeks to give a voice to those who "because of regional unrest, cultural turmoil, aesthetic misunderstanding, the difficulty of travel, problems of translation, etc." have gone unheard, writers whose works "demand an international — and, what's more, a globally minded — readership and response." You can read more about the series, and the Vicuña event, in a recent article in the Philadelphia City Paper.

Films From Henry Hills' Emma's Dilemma

Posted 4/16/2008 (link)

We're proud to announce the addition of a new page devoted to short films from Henry Hills' Emma's Dilemma project — a series of works, nearly a decade in the making, in which Emma Bee Bernstein plays Virgil to viewers' Dante as she investigates the worlds of poetry, drama and filmmaking. The subjects of Bernstein's interviews include Lee Ann Brown, Kenneth Goldsmith, Susan Howe and Julie Patton, among others. The scattershot fragments and quick edits of Hills' earlier films are present here, but the scale is dramatically reduced: instead of attempting to capture the teeming complexity of New York City through the divergent performances of a dozen or more poets, musicians and dancers, these films serve as microcosmic character studies; a testament to the playful potential of language and movement. Hills' recursive glitch-editing produces wonderfully absurdist effects, locking his subjects in goofy loops and making nonsense rhythms out of snippets of speech. This technique reaches its most dazzlingly hypnotic apex in a sort of slow-sync progression, as a sequence hiccups over and over again, moving through the scene at a glacial pace, until we're relieved by the (temporary) return to normal time.

All of Hills' films are available in streaming format, and a number of the pieces are also downloadable in full-resolution, widescreen versions, which we're calling "PennSound Special Editions." Hills' main PennSound author page has also been redesigned, with streaming versions of the films already available, including Radio Adios, Money, Gotham and A New Life, among others. You can also listen to a Close Listening conversation with Charles Bernstein, recorded this past January. We're grateful to contributing editor Danny Snelson for his tireless work in constructing the Emma's Dilemma page, and above all, to Henry Hills for allowing PennSound to distribute more of his incredible films. Click on the title above to start watching.

Aime Cesaire (1913-2008)

Posted 4/17/2008 (link)

PennSound mourns the loss of Martinique-born poet, critic and politician Aimé Césaire, with a pair of excerpts from Césaire's Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, read by one of its two translators, Clayton Eshleman at the Mad Alex series in New York on March 8, 2001. In his essay, "At the Locks of the Void: Co-Translating Aimé Césaire," Eshleman recalls his first impressions of Césaire's work, confessing that it "sank into [him] like a depth charge," and describes the unique challenge of translating poetry so richly interwoven with African, Creole and Carribean terminology, not to mention numerous neologisms. In regards to Notebook of a Return to the Native Land specifically, he notes that it is "as allusively dense as 'The Waste Land,' and as transcendental as 'The Duino Elegies,' before declaring it "one of the truly great poems of the 20th century." We hope you'll enjoy listening to Eshleman's rendition of Césaire's work, and consider it a fitting tribute to a radical thinker whose contributions to contemporary aesthetic and political currents are immeasurable.

For more information on Césaire's life and work, please consult his obituaries in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Guardian. To begin listening, click the title above — the recordings of Notebook of a Return to the Native Land are at the bottom of the page.

Tom Mandel: New Author Page

Posted 4/21/2008 (link)

We've recently created a new PennSound author page for germinal West Coast Language poet Tom Mandel, an organizer of the legendary Grand Piano reading series, as well as a former Director of the Poetry Center at the San Francisco State University.

The centerpiece of Mandel's page is a 2004 Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, where he reads a wide array of poems from throughout his thirty-year writing life, which has taken him from Chicago to San Francisco to the Philadelphia area, where he currently resides. You'll also find Mandel's appearance on Episode #5 of the PhillyTalks series, where he appeared alongside Ammiel Alcalay, reading a number of untitled works, as well as his poem "Fire of Wandering," and a transcript of the entire program is available in PDF format.

Finally, Mandel's presentation at this month's George Oppen Centennial Event — "Entitlement & Doubt (Postcards & Procrastination)" — rounds out the collection, complete with scanned images of the postcard and envelope Mandel mentions in his talk. We're glad to be able to present Mandel's work, and hope to add more in the future.

Close Listening Reading and Conversation with Elizabeth Willis

Posted 4/22/2008 (link)

We've just added the latest installment of the Close Listening series — a two-part reading and conversation featuring poet and scholar Elizabeth Willis.

Charles Bernstein begins by asking Willis a number of questions concerning identity and poetry: whether one reads the poet's identity through a given text and how much of Willis' own identity she relates through her work. This leads to a larger discussion of the various sources which feed and shape her poetry — and here, Willis cites Loine Niedecker's use of Darwin, among other sources, as well as Niedecker's great influence on her own work (both creative and critical). The sweeping conversation also finds links between the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the 1955 noir-film Kiss Me Deadly, and discusses the unique situation of the poet in the university setting.

The second segment features Willis reading a generous selection of poems from her latest collection, 2006's Meteoric Flowers — including "The Principle Catastrophe," "Her Bright Career," "Viewless Floods of Heat" and "On the Resemblance of Some Flowers to Insects" — along with the title poem from 1995's The Human Abstract, "Sonnet" from 2003's Turneresque, and concludes with a handful of new poems. On Willis' PennSound author page, you'll also find a 2003 reading from SUNY Buffalo celebrating the release of Turneresque, which includes more than a dozen poems from that collection. Click on the title above to start listening.

Four New Author Pages For Line Reading Series Authors

Posted 4/23/2008 (link)

As we continue to add segmented versions of many of the fantastic recordings of events from the Line Reading Series, we've created a number of new author pages, bringing together those singles with other resources from the site. On the "New at PennSound" bar on the right, you'll find links to newly created pages for Ange Mlinko, Ben Marcus, Damon Krukowski and Thomas Sayers Ellis. Mlinko's page also includes recordings from a Frequency Audio Journal, as well as a 1998 celebration of the life and work of Bernadette Mayer at the Kelly Writers House. Marcus' page features a recent appearance on Cross-Cultural Poetics, while, on Ellis' page, you'll find a 2004 Segue Series Reading from the Bowery Poetry Club. Finally, on Krukowski's page, you'll find links to Music Overheard compilation on UbuWeb, which he edited, as well as music by his band, Damon and Naomi.

These readings join newly segmented Line Reading Series recordings from Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Kenneth Goldsmith, Tom Raworth, Jena Osman, Darren Wershler-Henry, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Dan Farrell and Ron Padgett. Click on any of the links above to begin listening.

Flarf Poetry Festival at the Kelly Writers House, 2007

Posted 4/24/2008 (link)

Organized by Steve McLaughlin as part of the Machine series at the Kelly Writers House, this event, recorded on February 8, 2007, brings together key members of the Flarf collective, including poets Nada Gordon, Mel Nichols, Rod Smith, Sharon Mesmer and Gary Sullivan, along with filmmaker Brandon Dowling, for an event which celebrates the uncompromising and unapologetic aesthetics of the Flarf movement.

A single file of the entire reading has been available since shortly after the event took place, but we've recently created segmented tracks for each individual poet, and in the process, created a new PennSound author page for Nada Gordon. You'll find many additional contemporaneous readings — most from the Line Reading Series and the Segue Series — on the individual author pages, which will help broaden your orientation to (or appreciation of) Flarf poetics. You'll also want to check out Al Filreis' PennSound Podcast #4, which discusses the origins and of Flarf poetry and this reading in particular.

Dedicated to showcasing "the literary uses of the computer," the Machine series has organized some of the most ambitious events at the Writers House in recent history, including Brian Kim Stefans' Janury, 2008 lecture, "Language as Gameplay: From the Oulipo to the Jew's Daughter" and Chris Funkhouser's talk "IBM Poetry: Exploring Restriction in Computer Poems," which we'll be highlighting next week.

The World Record: Poetry Project Recordings 1969-1980

Posted 4/25/2008 (link)

Today, we're very proud to unveil a selection of poems from the 1981 album, The World Record, highlighting some of the finest recordings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project between 1969 and 1980. Long before sites like PennSound, the Electronic Poetry Center, UbuWeb or Eclipse, the Poetry Project (founded in 1966 by poet Paul Blackburn) existed as a vital venue for New American Poetics, offering readings and workshops, publishing a number of mimeograph journals (including The World and The Poetry Project Newsletter, which continues to this day), and amassing a monumental archive of poetry recordings, the best of which are present here.

The World Record captures two generations of avant-garde American poetics, starting with Objectivist elder statesmen Charles Reznikoff and Carl Rakosi, along with proto-New York School poet Edwin Denby. You'll also find a number of poets closely affiliated with the Poetry Project itself — both as directors and workshop leaders — such as Bernadette Mayer, Lewis Warsh, Ron Padgett, and Ted Berrigan, as well as many of their peers (including Alice Notley, Lorenzo Thomas, Clark Coolidge, Joe Brainard and Robert Creeley). Altogether, there are 27 poems from 20 different poets, only half of whom we've mentioned here.

We're grateful to the Poetry Project — specifically artistic director Stacy Szymaszek and Bill Berkson (one of the album's editors) — for their permission to present these historic recordings. Click on the title above to start listening.

Jerome Rothenberg at UPenn April 28-29 + New Recording

Posted 4/27/2008 (link)

All of us at PennSound are very excited about Jerome Rothenberg's visit this Monday and Tuesday (April 28th and 29th) as part of this year's Kelly Writers House Fellows Program (which also included visits from Art Spiegelman and Lynne Sharon Schwartz).

Charles Bernstein deems Rothenberg, "the ultimate 'hyphenated' poet: critic-anthropologist-editor-anthologist-performer-teacher-translator, to each of which he brings an unbridled exuberance and an innovator's insistence on transforming a given state of affairs." The collection of recordings on Rothenberg's PennSound author page attests to his prodigious talents — there, you'll find poems, translations and musical collaborations which draw upon Native American, Asian, Spanish and Jewish traditions, as well as dadaist aesthetics. In addition to Rothenberg's own work, you'll also find links to a 1998 celebration of Rothenberg and Pierre Joris' anthology Poems for the Millenium, during which the editors, as well as Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Bob Perelman read selections from that volume. There's also a 1996 LINEbreak interview with Bernstein, and, if you're in search of a very brief primer on the poet's work, look no further than Al Filreis' PennSound Podcast #1, which showcases the Rothenberg's "A Paradise of Poets," "Esther K. Comes to America," and an excerpt from The Lorca Variations along with his reading of John Cage's "Lecture on Nothing." To celebrate Rothenberg's visit, we've added a new recording to our ample collection: a 2008 collaboration with musician Charlie Morrow, entitled "In Memoriam: Jackson Mac Low," which you can listen to by clicking on the title above.

There are still a very limited number of seats available for the Monday night reading, as well as the Tuesday morning discussion; for more information on the Kelly Writers House Fellows Program, as well as contact information to RSVP, be sure to visit the program homepage. If you're unable to attend, you can watch the Tuesday morning program via a live webcast (click here for details), and, of course, recordings of both programs will be available on PennSound in the near future. We hope you'll be able to join us for this monumental event — whether virtually, or in-person.

Jerome Rothenberg: Kelly Writers House Fellows Program Now Available

Posted 4/30/2008 (link)

If you were unable to attend either of this week's Kelly Writers House Fellows events featuring Jerome Rothenberg, or missed yesterday's webcast, you'll be glad to know that recordings of both programs are now available on PennSound's Rothenberg author page. You can also find streaming video of yesterday's discussion on the Writers House Fellows homepage.

On Monday night, those of us in attendance were dazzled by a lengthy reading which wove poems together with anecdotes, lessons and explanations, drawing upon Rothenberg's Technicians of the Sacred and A Paradise of Poets, among others, along with a generous selection of poems from 2007's Triptych (which includes Poland/1931, Khurbn and The Burning Babe). Nearing the ninety-minute mark, the poet concluded with a rousing rendition of A Seneca Journal's "Old Man Beaver's Blessing Song," which delighted the appreciative audience.

Al Filreis led Tuesday morning's conversation, starting off the program with a number of questions focusing on Jewish identity and the poetics of the Holocaust, which is a prevalent theme in Triptych and much of Rothenberg's work. This discussion was followed up by questions on Rothenberg's dada influences, the poet's relationship with Robert Duncan and Paul Blackburn, and Rothenberg's ethnopoetic investigations, asked by audience members CAConrad, Lee Ann Brown, Bob Perelman and Thomas Devaney, among others.

Jerry and Diane's visit serves as the perfect culmination of a marvelous year for poetry at The Kelly Writers House, which started with a September reading by Lee Ann Brown and Bernadette Mayer, and included events featuring Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Leslie Scalapino, Cecilia Vicuña, Fred Moten, Brian Kim Stefans, Johanna Drucker and Chris Funkhouser, along with tributes to Bob Cobbing and George Oppen. We hope you'll join us again next September for another year of exciting events.